28 Aug 2007

Cat Post 2: Giving Back to San Francisco. Giving Food to Homeless.

My plane was leaving on Friday morning from San Jose to Albany New York, and it looked like I’d have time Thursday to go to San Francisco for a trip. I had felt only slightly "robbed" of missing Kings Canyon (at least that’s how I justified a second "side trip" in my mind) and the Haight-Ashbury district seemed to be calling me. It’s been probably 3 years since I’ve been there, and 12 years since I was hanging out on the streets there collecting foodstamps from San Francisco, and it seemed high time to give some back.

That morning I walked through San Jose to a store and I bought a backpack full of bags of peanuts, granola, and nut mixes.

I then rented the smallest car I could get (san fran has small parking spaces) and headed to the Haight Ashbury District. There’s pleanty of homeless people around there. At one time in my life I knew the people there, and was more on their level.  I got lucky and have gone a long ways, but many of these people do not have the opportunites I’ve been lucky eneough to have.

I then walked around and talked to all the homeless people I could find. I also gave them bags of food. When my backpack ran out I picked up another backpack bag full of food and gave almost all those away as well. I also had some very interesting mind provoking conversations with many of these people. I believe they were all thankful for the food, and thankful that someone would talk with them. I could tell you stories….but that’d be another post (would love to write book on interviews with people on the streets)….

I also got a tarot reading from someone on the streets, and halfway through got a tattoo as well (I have the eye of Horus on my arm….but the original guy made the inner eye red…and I just wanted it black (red seemed evil…and I didn’t want red)…..So since I was having him make a red dot, to black I suddenly had another black dot idea…..so on my other arm I got another tattoo of the constellation Orion….only the dots for stars (about 20 dots) like this (but with no lines)…..I guess at first glance you’d think I’ve got a bunch of birth marks on my upper arm! (Why Orion?….I’m not positive….for some reason that’s always been my favorite constellation….I’m drawn to it….now it’s drawn on me ; ). It also seemed like Haight Ashbury would be a great place to get a Tattoo.

I’ll admit that I gave some people some money too….my first thought was "food" but to some, money can be an opportunity too.  And by the way, yes, I felt safe. I had friends all around….they were probably calling me the "Peanut guy", but I think I was "all right" to eneough to feel safe and protected in my business.

I hate seeing people living on the streets….I don’t want to get into politics or into who’s fault that shit can happen….I just know it can be the shits when that’s where you’re at.

I felt best with the last guy I talked with on my way back to my car. He has some serious medical issues, and to be honest, I don’t see much help out of his situation…only what the governemt will pay to keep him alive (and that’s not much)… but in that situation you’ll do everything you can to survive…even if it means living on the street to be near doctors who have the ability to help….I could go on…I also gave him some cash that I know he so seriously could use. When I left he told me he’d been in San Fran for 8 months now and that meeting me was the best thing that’s happened to him since he’s been there.  

At the least I think we both felt better and wiser when we parted. I hope he gets lucky.

No matter where I go in life, I never want to loose touch with who I was once in San Francisco years ago….it taught me a lot. I’ve been lucky and if I can help spread any luck to those in need I want to do what is right. That has been my big question lately…heck, I guess that’s everyone’s big thought "What am I here for?"….I might not know the answer, but I do believe that the answer lies in doing what is good and right.

On a side note, I also  feel guilty about the Delorean I’ll be able to drive in a few weeks. I’ve already decided that I’ll drive it for a few years then donate it to charity (or money from an auction). It’s my "toy", but I’d probably feel even better if my toy could help a charity one day.

Peace.

Comments

  1. Jason Hendricks August 28, 2007 at 9:02 PM

    I can really relate to this one, Jim…I’ve never talked about this before but I was homeless from the age of 16 through 18, due to some pretty messed up family issues. I look back almost daily on that experience and realize how truly lucky I am.

    Those who have experienced severe instability in life seem to appreciate the simpler things (aka non-materialistic) even more.

  2. Hawaii SEO August 28, 2007 at 9:55 PM

    Same here… I never lived on the streets but experienced some bad luck where I never knew from day to day whose couch I would be sleeping on. I almost became homeless shortly after moving to Hawaii. It was seriously hard to find a job, it’s expensive, I had no friends of family to fall back on and I was running out of cash real fast.

    Homelessness is sometimes only one lost paycheck away for a lot of people.

  3. BuddhaBen August 29, 2007 at 11:18 AM

    Jim, great post! good to see there are still some real people out there. and Jason, thanks for sharing that. i too can relate to what i call “humble beginnings”, and there is no doubt that it is those people who go on to shape the world and make a difference. Jim, similar to your book containing interviews of homeless people, i’ve always wanted to go around the country and grab all the homeless people with musical talents and start a traveling band. then have some old walkmans donated and give them back to the homeless with tapes of the music that their peers created. “headsets for the homeless .com …is it taken yet?

  4. Ian August 31, 2007 at 3:53 PM

    I was ass-out homeless in the wonderful Northeast for a couple of years. As far as this issue goes, we’re definitely on the same wavelength.

    A lot of my motivation to improve my understanding of SEO and to keep getting better and better at my job, this comes from knowing exactly where I came from. I don’t want to go back there.

    One good thing about being homeless, it frees up a lot of extra party time…

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